There was plenty at stake on Sunday at St Kentigern College as the Auckland Secondary Schools Premier Grade Qualifying Tournament came down to the final four teams – the winner’s of the two semi-final games gaining entry to the elite top eight Premier competition.
The first semi featured Mt Roskill Grammar and Kelston Boys HS, both teams having to warm up in semi darkness as organisers searched for the power switch.
The gloom continued for Roskill in the opening quarter as Kelston forged a 22-12 advantage, guard Sam Brooking making a couple of eye catching baskets.
Play was held up before the start of the second quarter as running repairs were carried out to the floor. The break seemed to help Roskill, as Randy Sjafre, Jordan Tahana and Zarne Lueluaia-Hughes all made threes to help the red and black’s tie the game, 38 apiece at half-time. Linus Jakszt led the Kelston scorers with a dozen points in the half.
Forwards Jakszt and Myles Pinono took control of the boards as Kelston dominated the third period, piling on 29 points, to lead 67-51 at the last break.
Brooking knocked down a triple to open the fourth quarter and when Jakszt repeated the dose Kelston were 20 points to the good and a place in Prem grade almost assured. The teams exchanged baskets in the final minutes, with the result decided, coach Jeff Fahrensohn and his team able to celebrate an unbeaten run through the qualifying tournament.
Kelston 93 – Sam Brooking 25, Linus Jakszt 23, Kale Lawson 13, Myles Pinono 10
Mt Roskill 68 – Zarne Lueluaia-Hughes 26, Randy Sjafre 22, Jordan Tahana 12
Early St Kentigern turnovers forced coach Aaron Young to call two timeouts in the opening seven minutes against unbeaten Mt Albert GS, the mistakes proving costly as MAGS opened a commanding 28-8 first quarter lead.
Joel Vaiangina and Max Shorter attempted to turn the tide for the hosts but the MAGS flow was constant and they led 43-17 at half-time. Michael Gardner was a continuous threat for the visitors constantly finding a route to the basket for scores or assists. He led all scorers at the main break with 15 points.
Vaiangina produced the highlight play of the game with a two handed put back dunk in the third period but even that flash of brilliance was not enough to inspire a St Kent’s comeback, the lead 65-33 at three-quarter time.
MAGS boasted greater depth than any of other team in the tournament and this was evident as they had a balanced scoring effort with nine players getting on the scoreboard.
Gardner and the tireless Jack Morrison were outstanding but coach Cartwright would have been pleased with the effort of all his players.
Mt Albert 87 – Michael Gardner 12, Jack Morrison 11, Luke Fitzpatrick 11
St Kentigern 43 – Joel Vaiangina 12, Max Shorter 10, Kyle Robb 10
MAGS and Kelston join Rangitoto College, Westlake Boys HS, Liston College, Rosmini College, Onehunga HS and Auckland Boys GS in this season’s Premier competition.